Spatial and Seasonal Variation in Demersal Trawl Fauna Associated with a Prawn Fishery on the Central Great Barrier Reef, Australia

R. Watson, M. L. C. Dredge, D. G. Mayer, (1990). Marine and Freshwater Research 41, 65-77.

Regular monthly sampling at eight trawl sites in Great Barrier Reef waters identified variations in both species composition and the relative abundance of the more common species over a 2-year period. Faunal composition was affected more by the location of sample sites than by the time when samples were taken. Ordination analysis differentiated a ‘nearshore’ group of sites from a ‘midshelf’ and an ‘inter-reef’ group. The composition of ‘inter-reef’ fauna remained strikingly uniform below the 40 m depth contour regardless of proximity to coral reef formations. Classification of the samples also revealed weakly separated ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ season temporal groupings, with the former characterized by higher abundances of several ‘nearshore’ species.